Poems for the New Year

Here is some special poetry to see in the New Year! This is my personal favourite by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Ring Out, Wild Bells

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About depths of feeling, it's so clear that so much of what passes for 'passion' nowadays misses the mark completely. There was a time in film and music where much was left hidden and had an air of mystery about it. Nowadays 'anything goes' but it isn't passion and lacks depth. Most fascinating of all is the fact that the some of the people who are often described as 'cold' or viewed as remote are often those with the greatest depths of passion and feeling.

To cite but 3 examples: Prince Albert, Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Emily Bronte. Apart from being the love of Queen Victoria's life, Prince Albert is often seen as the epitome of Victorian coldness, yet here was a man who inspired not only the love of so passionate a woman, but also wrote music and painted with such depths of feeling. He died at only 42 and I think that had a lot to do with the power of his unexpressed feelings. Being the child of an unhappy marriage, he learned to hide his feelings at an early age but, looking at his art, his music, his social conscience, his devotion to his family, he was one of the most intensely passionate men ever to have lived.

Because she didn't have children and was married to someone who is often maligned, Grand Duchess Elizabeth is also often described as 'cold'. Her letters - filled with exclamation marks and dramatic expressions of endearment and passion - reveal a very different personality! Emily Bronte, because she longed always to be alone, is seen as another 'cold' person and yet she wrote the most passionate novel, and still more the most wonderful poetry of her century.

In an age where blatant and rather boring displays of short-lived sexuality passes for passion, it's small wonder that such people who were so 'whole' in their passion are dismissed as 'cold'. But, as Wordsworth rather clumsily wrote: "To me, the meanest flower the blows can give thoughts that lie too deep for human tears..." I often think that those with the deepest sensitivities, do not wear their hearts on their sleeves because they know that it would not be understood in a rather dispassionate world.

Perhaps it's not that people no longer have these sensibilities - it's that the most powerful feelings are frightening to most people and those who feel them most deeply feel it is better to remain silent about them.

A Lovely Present From Aunt Louise

Queen Victoria's aunt, Queen Louise of Belgium, bought her this beautiful fan which was once owned by Marie Antoinette.

Wouldn't it be good to have an aunt who is a queen or a princess? The presents would be so much better!

2009 - A time to heal

During her Christmas Day broadcast, Her Majesty the Queen - a woman of great wisdom - said, "Each year that passes seems to have its own character. Some leave us with a feeling of satisfaction, others are best forgotten. 2009 was a difficult year for many..."

Looking back at 2009, which began with such high hopes (as does every year) the Queen really captured the spirit of the age! A year, here in England, of seeing more and more coffins draped with Union Flags being brought home from Afghanistan; a year of meaningless words spouted by world leaders; a year of M.P.s' expenses coming to light; a year of shops like Borders and Woolworth's closing - empty shopping Malls and people losing their jobs; a year of more nonsense spouted about the climate change, when Nature responds by sending more snow than we have had in decades!!; a years of more child abuse scandals in Ireland being brought out.

But all is not lost! As Her Majesty said, "Each year that passes seems to have its own character..." and it seems like this one was a year of uncovering the lies that have been allowed to remain hidden and have been festering in the manner of, to quote Shakespeare, "something is rotten in the state of...." how things have been. If one wishes to re-decorate a house, it's not advisable to paint over cracks, it is better to strip the whole room and expose the rottenness as only then can it be remedied. A boil sometimes needs to be lanced in order to heal. This year seems to have been a year for lancing boils and for people to be able to say, "Things have gone on in a dark way for long enough; now is the time to expose the shadow side in order to heal it."

The most wonderful story of the year, for me, is Susan Boyle's. What a whirlwind of success for someone thoroughly without guile! After the 'plastic age', where every actor looks the same as the next, it feels as though Nature is regurgitating the nonsense we have swallowed for so long. It feels like a pivotal time of changing direction. As more and more people move to growing their own vegetables again, and finding alternative ways of earning a living than by fitting into someone else's idea of how we must live, as people turn from the idea of advertising designs for how everyone must look in order to be successful, maybe it really is a sign that 2009 will be looked back on as the year of exposure of falsehood, of lancing the boils and of making a small turning point on the road to recovering who we really are and how we might live in harmony, being who we are here to be.

(picture taken from The Telegraph website. If you object, I'll remove it :-) )

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The Youngest Princesses

My last post about contemporary royal romances made me start thinking about the beautiful new princesses that have resulted from these latest marriages. (Yes, the baby princes are cute too, but this is a blog about princesses. . .) I know many of my readers are not avid royal watchers, so I thought you might like to see pics of these little darlings. For those of you who are already familiar with them, you will probably enjoy seeing them again!

Spanish Royals Attend Easter Mass in Mallorca
It's hard to choose just one photo of Infanta Leonor of Spain. I think she is the most adorable child in the world since Shirley Temple retired her tap shoes! This one of her holding her little sister Infanta Sofia's hand--and wearing matching outfits as they often do--is one of my favorites. Leonor is the oldest daughter of the Felipe and Letizia, the Prince and Princess of the Asturias. She is second in line to the throne after her father. However, under current Spanish law, which uses male-preference primogeniture to determine succession, she would be superceded if her father has any legitimate sons. (This is the same type of succession used in England--if Queen Elizabeth II had had a brother, she wouldn't be queen today.) Changes in the law have been proposed in Spain, but have not yet been adopted.

Danish Royals Attend Sydney Photo Call
In Denmark, Princess Isabella is third in line to the throne following her father, Crown Prince Frederick and her older brother Prince Christian. Denmark, like all of the Scandinavian countries, has adopted gender-blind succession laws. Isabella's name was considered an unusual choice because it is not common in Denmark, but I think it is very lovely. (By the way, take a look at her shoes in this photo--either she was is extremely active or her mom is thrifty enough to use hand-me-downs.)

Norwegian Royal Family Celebrate Norway's National Day
Princess Ingrid Alexandra is second in line in Norway after her father, Crown Prince Haakon. As his oldest child, she takes precedence over her younger full brother, Prince Sverre Magnus, because Norway's succession goes by birth order. However, the law was only changed in 1990. Before that, Norway used Salic Law, which meant women could not accede to the throne at all. Therefore, Haakon's older sister, Princess Martha Louise, was excluded until the new law was passed. Under the new succession law, Haakon, as the second child, would have been demoted. So, Parliament decided that, while Martha Louise would be included in the line of succession, the new gender-blind rules would only apply to children born after 1990. This doesn't seem to bother Martha Louise who dropped her royal status (she's just Her Highness, not Her Royal Highness) when she married in 2002. She has numerous business ventures which would not have been possible if she were heir to the throne.

Belgian Royals Pose with the Christmas Tree
Belgium has a plethora of tiny princesses, but the future queen is Princess Elisabeth (she's on the left, with her cousins, Princess Letitia Marie and Princess Louise). King Albert II has six granddaughters and six grandsons. Elisabeth is the first of Crown Prince Philippe's children and is number two behind her dad in order of succession. She has two younger brothers, Gabriel and Emmanuel, and a younger sister, Eleonore.

Prince Willem-Alexander, Princess Maxima of Netherlands - Photocall

Dutch Royal Family Annual Winter Photocall
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, like the Queen of England, also benefited from having no brothers. She succeeded her mother, Queen Juliana, who also had no brothers, and Queen Juliana succeeded her mother, Queen Wilhemina, whose brothers had died young. In fact, when the current Crown Prince Willem Alexander was born in 1967, he was the first Dutch prince to be born in more than 100 years. Although Beatrix broke the century-long tradition by having three sons and no daughters, she has made up for it in the next generation: seven of her eight grandchildren are girls. Only three of the girls are princesses, however, as it was decided in 2001 that only the children of the Crown Prince would have royal status; the other girls are countesses. The Crown Prince's three daughters are Princess Catharina-Amalia (called Amalia), Princess Alexia (named for her dad, who is called Alexander) and Princess Ariane, in that order. The top photo shows the three princesses from youngest to oldest. The bottom photo shows Queen Beatrix wrangling her six oldest grandchildren.

All of these little girls are still too young to realize the true impact of their positions. They probably think all children are incessantly followed by photographers! However, their parents have taken measures to raise them as normally as possible. Unlike many previous royals, they were born in hospitals and they attend regular kindergartens with ordinary children. They also appear to have very devoted parents who take them on regular outings to the seaside, theme parks, and other family-oriented spots. And, like most little girls, they seem to have their daddies wrapped around their fingers!

Christmas Season

I hope that you enjoy the Christmas season and your holidays!

Prince Albert's First 'Family' Christmas.

The image of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria's family at Christmas is one of the most enduring and inspires that nostalgia for the 'Victorian Christmas'. This excerpt from the wonderful book: "King Without a Crown" by Daphne Bennett, describes their first Christmas as parents. Princess Vicky (the future Empress Frederick) was just one month old:

"Driving to Windsor for Christmas, Albert refused to entrust his child to anyone, but held her on his own knee. With the radiant Queen by his side, he was filled with 'quiet satisfaction' (a favourite expression to denote extreme happiness) that Providence had been so good to him.This year his 'dear festival time' held a special meaning - he was now the father of a family. This meant three present tables...the Queen's, magnificently decorated by Albert himself with a huge arch of laurel and multi-coloured chrysanthemums, entwined to form her initials, which made her speechless with delight. An extra surprise was the enormous tree, gay with candles and decoration, which he had had sent from Germany."

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How To Become A Princess

Would you like to become a princess? I certainly would. Even though I'm happily married, I'd swap places with Princess Mary in an instant so that I could be married to Prince Frederick and live in beautiful, cold Denmark!

If you'd like to become a princess, Cheryl Anderson Brown of the wonderful Princess Palace tells you how: How To Become A Princess.

(I received a comment on Cheryl's post saying : "Cool post you've got here. I'd like to read more on this theme." I rejected it because it was from an escort agency!)

Sneak Peek Into Fall 2010 Wedding Gown Trends

It's that time again - bridal market in New York. This is where all of the top wedding gown designers showcase the styles that we will be seeing on brides getting married in the fall of 2010. Here is a sneak peek into some of the top trends for fall 2010 wedding gowns, hot off the runway.

For the unfamiliar, this is how bridal market works. The designers present their runway shows to the bridal shop owners, who in turn will order samples of their favorite gowns to carry in their stores. The gowns ordered from the collection that was just shown will not begin to arrive in the bridal salons until January (or later) of 2010. Given the 4-6 month lead time needed for a bride to order a designer gown, the wedding gowns ordered from the showroom samples will not be arriving until the summer of 2010. That is why the collection of bridal gowns on the runway in the fall of 2009 is referred to as the Fall 2010 collection: those are the first brides who will be wearing these fabulous frocks.

Each wedding gown designer has their own style, and yet there are inevitably trends across the industry as a whole. In the previous few seasons, trends like the one shoulder gown and the empire waisted Grecian goddess look ruled the runway. The Fall 2010 collection of bridal gowns went in a different direction. The one shoulder look, while still popular for bridesmaids, is beginning to fade for brides (as fresh as it looked when new, this was a trend with an obvious shelf life).

One of the biggest trends for the Fall 2010 bridal gowns is skirts with lots of texture and movement. Ruffles, tiers, vertical ruffles, appliqued flowers; all of this and more covered the skirts of the gowns. Plain is definitely out. Full skirts were in evidence, as were plenty of modified trumpet skirts. Many of the gowns had a good bit of drama in their silhouettes. Ethereal tulle skirts are also in style for the upcoming season.

As we saw for the Spring 2010 collection, fabric embellishments are very popular, more so than heavy beadwork or embroidery. Favorite accents include oversized bows, fabric flowers, and bits of lace. This type of tone on tone textural ornamentation pairs beautifully with crystal bridal jewelry sets, rather than heavy rhinestones. Bridal jewelry sets should have movement (such as swingy earrings), just like the gowns with which they will be paired.

Strapless gowns ruled the runway yet again. Although plenty of dropped waists were in evidence, there was a strong trend towards gowns with natural waistlines with full textural skirts. Many of the bodices on the wedding gowns also had some texture. Shirred or gathered bodices are very popular, even with all of the focus on ruffled and tiered skirts.

Short dresses remain a growing segment of the offerings for brides. Whether for City Hall chic ceremonies or second dresses for receptions, there are numerous shorter gowns from which the Fall 2010 bride will be able to choose. Overall, the Fall 2010 bridal gown collection appears to have a lot of beautiful dresses for brides with a variety of different styles.

Source : http://ezinearticles.com/?Sneak-Peek-Into-Fall-2010-Wedding-Gown-Trends&id=3124384

A Very English King (Part Two)

Edward's Work

Queen Victoria didn't trust her rather wayward son. She kept him away from the State papers and insisted on doing all of her work herself. The problem was that this was actually one of the causes of Edward's rather fast life. As he didn't have much to do he thought that he may as well enjoy himself! He worked very hard when he actually had a job to do.

He charmed the French, for example, when he became the president of the British section of the international exhibition in Paris in 1878. He toasted the President of the French republic, Marshall MacMahon, and strongly supported the entente cordiale between the two countries.

Edward had always loved France and the French. He spoke French fluently and he had liked the splendour of the French court and admired their way of life. As a teenager on his first visit to Paris, he asked Empress Eugenie to let him stay there.
He said that his parents 'don't want us, and there are six more of us at home!'

Edward also worked hard when he became a Commissioner on a commission for the aged poor. Even a radical Liberal MP praised him and said that he had asked very astute questions. Edward was very interested in this subject but as royalty wasn't supposed to be involved in politics his hands were somewhat tied.

Queen Victoria realised how much she really did love her son when he almost died of typhoid. Their relationship improved greatly and she trusted him with more work, realising that she was growing old and might die at any time.

King Edward

Queen Victoria finally died in 1901 and Edward became King. There was great concern when the Coronation had to be postponed because he had appendicitis and had to have an emergency operation. The King was sixty so there were fears for his life.

Few people thought that Edward would be a good King. They thought that he liked enjoying himself too much but he proved them wrong. He busied himself with the State papers and worked at making peace between countries. Edward was actually nicknamed 'The Peacemaker'.

He charmed the French yet again in 1903. They were angry about the British occupation of Egypt, the Boer war, and criticism of the Dreyfuss trial. King Edward soon brought them around, however. President Loubet even made a return visit.
The Anglo-French agreement was signed in 1904.

Edward had less luck with the wilful and difficult Kaiser. He prophetically said that his attitudes might help begin a war.

The 'King of Europe' died in 1910 and worked almost until the end. The Earl of Grenville remarked when Queen Victoria was alive that: "Prince Albert was unloved, because he possessed all the virtues which are sometimes lacking in the Englishman. The Prince of Wales is loved because he has all the faults of which the Englishman is accused."1.

1. John Van Der Kiste, Queen Victoria's Grandchildren, Sutton Publishing, London, 1983.

How to Become a Princess

If you don’t have monarchs for parents, but you are thinking of choosing princesshood as your career path—today’s princesses have to work (and give up all privacy) for the privileges they receive—here are a few tips based on how some of this century’s royal ladies gained their tiaras. A generation ago, your family still had to live on top of a royal family for you to get inside (Fergie’s dad was a royal polo manager and Diana was literally born on a royal estate), but contemporary royal wannabes can be a little more proactive.

1. Go to high-profile international events

Royal Wedding in Holland
In 1999, Argentine-born New York investment banker Maxima Zorriegueta met the Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands during the Seville Spring Fair in Spain. He introduced himself simply as “Alexander.” When he later told her he was a prince, she basically said, “Yeah, right.” The couple conducted a transatlantic affair while she kept her prince’s true identity secret from her folks. She did eventually tell them that the mysterious Alexander was a prince, but Maxima’s wedding was not a true fairytale: her father was encouraged not to attend because the Dutch Parliament questioned his possible ties to a former Argentine military dictator. Both of her parents stayed away from the wedding, but continued to be actively engaged in the lives of their daughter and her three blonde baby girls. Maxima and Alexander regularly make extended family visits to Argentina.

Wedding Of Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson

In 2000, Australian advertising agent Mary Donaldson made a fateful choice of night spot during the Sydney Olympics. When the Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark slipped in to the Slip Inn for a nip, lovely Mary slipped in to his life. (Please pardon the puns.) She and her friend reportedly were trying to determine whether the men hanging out in the bar had smooth or hairy chests when three young bucks—who just happened to be Frederick, his brother Prince Joachim and their cousin Prince Nikolaos of Greece—offered to let the ladies feel theirs. Although Frederick was smitten, Mary admits she didn’t fall instantly in love. A year later, she moved to Paris to be closer to him and a year after that to Denmark. And, one year after that, she finally walked down the aisle. (Her dad, a former math professor, moved to Denmark to be closer to his daughter. He helps look after Mary’s two little ones whenever he can.)

Incidentally, the current Queen of Sweden, German-born Silvia Sommerlath, met her prince while working as a translator during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. And, the current Queen of Spain, who was born a Greek princess, reportedly made her love connection with the future King during the 1960 Olympics in Rome (where she was on the Greek sailing team) even though they had met years previously. A warning to you cold-weather ladies: it seems to be the Summer Olympics that produce the most romantic results for young princes, although Prince Albert of Monaco was first seen publically with his current flame, Rhodesian-born swimmer Charlene Wittstock, during the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics, they had met when she competed at an international swimming event in Monaco.)

2. Have mutual friends
Prince Harry Afghanistan Campaign Medal - Presentation

Zimbabwean beauty Chelsy Davy met Prince Harry of Wales through mutual friends in 2004. For the first couple of years, their relationship was very long distance—he was at Sandhurst Military Academy in England while she studied accountancy at Cape Town University in South Africa. Although the two jetted back and forth between continents (don’t worry, she can afford it, her dad is loaded), Harry’s bad boy reputation apparently caused turbulence between them. In 2007, Chelsy enrolled in a graduate program at Leeds University in England, but even the closer proximity couldn’t keep these two passionate young people off the romantic roller coaster. About a year ago, they split up “for good,” but they still can’t seem to end it entirely. This month, they reportedly sent out a joint electronic Christmas card to their friends.

Christening of Prince Aristidis Stavros

American Marie-Chantal Miller met Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece at a friend’s party in New Orleans in 1993. He grew up in exile, mostly in London, while she grew up all over the world—New York City, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Switzerland—thanks to her family’s wealth. In fact, some believe she brought more money into the marriage than he did. Married in 1995, the couple now has five children and Marie-Chantal has put her experience as a mother to good use: she has an exclusive line of children’s clothing, available online at http://www.mariechantal.com

Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz

In 2001, Spanish television journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano met the future King of Spain, Felipe Prince of the Asturias, at a dinner party hosted by mutual friends. However, their romance didn’t actually start until they met again a year later when she was covering an oil spill in northern Spain and he came to region to commiserate with the people of the area. Letizia continued her high-powered career—having reported from the frontlines of the Iraq war and covered the Sept. 11 attacks—while the two engaged in an extremely secret courtship. Perhaps as a journalist herself, she knew how to avoid other journalists and their instrusive speculation. In fact, newspapers did not begin reporting on their relationship until just days before their engagement was announced in 2003. Coincidentally, Letizia was actually born in the Asturias region, so, in a way, she became Princess of her hometown. (If only there were a Prince of Lincoln City, I would have been set.)

Norwegian waitress Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby met the Crown Prince of her homeland through mutual friends at the Quart Festival, a rock festival in her hometown of Kristiansand, in 1996. (I guess I should have attended the festival when I was in Norway in ’92; I could have found him first!) They later shared a taxi and began falling in love. Like most Scandinavian couples, Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon cohabitated before their marriage but eventually tied the knot in 2001.

3. Select your college carefully
Kate Middleton - Birthday

Not surprisingly, university applications usually spike whenever a prince announces where he will be studying. This was certainly the case when Prince William of Wales decided to attend the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. As a fellow art history student, Catherine (Kate) Middleton soon became one of the prince’s inner circle. In their second year at St. Andrews, they and some other friends moved in to a cottage together. Speculation about their relationship grew when he was photographed watching her model a scanty outfit in a university fashion show. In the last nine years, their romance has made quite a lot of money for the tabloids. The constant pressure from the media has often strained the relationship. William and Kate split in 2007 but have since reunited and rumors are running rampant that an engagement will be announced in 2010.

Incidentally, when one of my friends enrolled in graduate school at Georgetown University in the early ‘90s, I tried to get her to introduce me to the two princes who were studying there at the time, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and/or his cousin Felipe Prince of the Asturias, but she never bothered to meet them. I guess I should have gone there myself!

4. Enlist in military service
Luxembourg celebrates National Day

Eighteen-year-old Tessy Antony met the younger son of her country’s Grand Duke, while serving on a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 2004, where she worked as a driver. This apparently helped her meet 18-year-old Prince Louis of Luxembourg when he came to visit the troops. Two years later, their first child was born and, six months after that, the couple was married. To marry his love, Louis gave up succession rights for him and his children. Also, Tessy was denied the rank of princess. Earlier this year, however, Tessy and her two little boys were finally granted royal rank. She is now officially a Princess of Luxembourg and her sons are Princes of Nassau.

5. Don’t worry if you have a past. . .
Norwegian Royal Family Celebrate Norway's National Day

Although Charles Prince of Wales was under extraordinary pressure to find a “pure” bride—quite a task in post-Sexual Revolution Britain—when he became engaged to the teenaged Lady Diana Spencer, today’s princes are far less particular. Mette-Marit had been linked to drug users and already had a son from another relationship when she married the Crown Prince of Norway. Mette-Marit's son, the adorable Marius, is so accepted by the royal family that he is listed as a member of the royal family on its official website alongside his royal half-siblings. Meanwhile, Letizia had already been married and divorced, when she met the Prince of the Asturias.

6. Don’t worry if you’re not of European descent. . .
Princess Alexandra Of Denmark And Martin Jorgensen - Wedding

Hong Kong-born British citizen Alexandra Manley met Prince Joachim of Denmark when he worked for a Danish shipping company in Hong Kong. With both European and Chinese grandparents, she became the first mixed-race European princess when they married a year later in 1995. Together, they had two sons before they divorced in 2005. Alexandra had become extremely popular in Denmark thanks to her lovely personality and expansive charitable works, so her former mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe II, gave Alexandra her own title, Her Highness The Countess of Frederiksborg. Since this is a personal title, Alexandra was able to keep it when she married Martin Jørgensen in 2007, although she was downgraded from “highness” to “excellency.” (Lady Diana Spencer lost “Her Royal Highness” upon her divorce although she was allowed the style “Princess of Wales,” as if the title were her last name. Had she remarried, she likely would have forfeited that style to take on her new husband’s name. At some future date, possibly when her son became king, she might have been given a title of her own, but this is purely speculation on my part.)

More racial diversity entered the European houses when Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein, son of the reigning Prince Hans Adam II, married Angela Brown. Born in Panama of African descent, Angela grew up in New York where she later studied at Parsons School of Design (hello, Tim Gunn!) and became an award-winning fashion designer. The couple met when he was in New York working for Chase Capital Partners in 1997. They married in 2000; she, of course, wore a dress she designed herself.

FYI My sister was also born in Panama and raised in the U.S., so if there are any princes hanging around Atlanta these days, send me a message; I’ll be glad to make the introduction! I may have missed my opportunities to marry a royal prince (instead of the prince of my heart—everyone say “aaah.”) but I’ll be delighted to help a sister out.

A Very English King

Edward VII. (Part One)

Blue-eyed and blonde-haired, young Prince Albert Edward impressed everyone with his sweet nature, except his parents. Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert, were disappointed in the young Prince because they didn’t think that he was as clever as their favourite, his elder sister, Princess Vicky.

They subjected the little boy to a vigorous and strict school-room regime and kept him away from other boys in case he was exposed to bad influences. The young Prince lacked playmates and was teased rather mercilessly by his elder sister. It was no wonder that he was given to frequent rages and his parents found him hard to control.

Even Baron Stockmar, who had advised this extreme method of education, thought that the routine was too rigorous for the young boy and felt sorry for him. However, the Queen and Albert were determined. They didn’t realise that the young Prince’s talents lay in diplomacy and charm. One of his tutors, Henry Birch, praised the Prince’s ‘very good memory, very singular powers of observation.’

Edward also preferred outdoor pursuits, such as shooting and riding to his studies. He was not one for reading but this didn’t affect his capacity to work when he became King. Queen Victoria, eventually realised that she’d underestimated her son but this took many years.

The Affair with Nellie

Edward studied at the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh but his parents were not pleased with his progress. They thought that he spent too much time enjoying hunting and rich food instead of concentrating on his work. They were to be even more disappointed in him.

When the young Prince trained with the Grenadier Guards his fellow officers discovered his lack of experience with women. They sneaked the pretty actress, Nellie Clifden, into his room to surprise him. Edward was delighted with Nellie and she became his mistress. The problem was that Nellie began boasting about the affair.

Queen Victoria and Albert were outraged. It was not only his lack of morals that caused them concern. Princess Vicky had found a good match for Edward – the Danish Princess Alexandra. His parents were worried that his affair could affect the planned romance.

Prince Albert died of typhoid shortly after the affair. The Queen was so upset that she blamed Edward for causing his death. It would take some time before she forgave him.

Princess Alexandra

Luckily Princess Alexandra was still available. The Prince had met her before but he wasn’t that impressed because he preferred Nelly. After his father’s death he felt very contrite and he thought about the beautiful Danish Princess more and more.

Queen Victoria was very impressed with the young woman and the Prince eventually proposed. The young couple were in love and the Queen thought that their marriage would be happy.

Princess Alexandra soon became disillusioned with her husband, however. Her deafness tended to isolate her and probably annoyed Edward. She also had a succession of pregnancies and Edward started mixing with a fast set who liked shooting, hunting and women.

He became involved in many scandals, which annoyed Queen Victoria and his wife.
This included the Mordaunt scandal in which Edward was accused of being the father of Lady Harriet Mordaunt’s child. Many of his letters to her were read in court. These were quite innocent but Edward also denied any impropriety. Lady Harriet was declared insane shortly afterwards.

Edward’s many mistresses included the beautiful actress, .Lily Langtry and Daisy Brooke. He also had a long affair with Alice Keppel.

Grigory Rasputin

On this day (or yesterday if he died before Midnight) according to the Old Russian calendar, 93 years ago, Grigory Rasputin was murdered in a madcap plan to save the Romanov dynasty. To this day the exact details of his death remain sketchy and Prince Felix Youssoupov's claims to have fired the fatal bullet seem somewhat far-fetched. Nevertheless, the man was killed in vain. It was too late to save the dynasty and it was probably too late for Rasputin to claim to have any influence in anything that was going on in Russia. Events were moving too quickly and Rasputin had already gone beyond his capacity to be of any assistance to anyone.

These are only my thoughts about him and they might be mistaken. Rasputin, to my mind, was a simple peasant with a remarkable gift. He cannot be dismissed as simply a charlatan because the Tsarina Alexandra was far too astute and spiritual a being to be conned by someone so superficial. The driving force behind the Tsarina was the natural desire to end her son's suffering and her sense of responsibility in supporting her husband, Tsar Nicholas, and ensuring that he was able to adhere to his Coronation Oath and maintain the stability of the country. Alexandra was first and foremost a wife and mother. She had no personal desire for power but she had married - out of love - one of the most significant players on the world stage: the Tsar of all the Russias, who, likewise, had no personal desire for power, only the sense of having to carry that burden to the best of his ability. As any loving wife would do, she supported her husband in his work. Their only son suffered from haemophilia - a condition which, at the time, meant the slightest knock could leave him in excruciating pain and even prove fatal. Moreover, that beautiful child, was being groomed to one day rule the mighty Russian Empire and Alexandra's role was so ensure that he was capable of so doing, but the poor boy was often laid low by his illness and, like any mother, Alexandra would have done anything to ease his pain.

Into this scenario stepped the rough peasant Rasputin with his mystical gifts of being able to alleviate suffering. He was certainly successful on one level and he was also able to give Alexandra the hope and support she craved. Naturally, he appeared to her as a holy 'Man of God' - and perhaps he was, in the beginning. Alexei (the Tsarevich) felt better when Rasputin assured Alexandra that all was well. Nowadays, when so much information is available about the power of the mind, such things make a lot of sense, but then it was simply 'miraculous'. Unfortunately, I think, Rasputin came to associate himself with his own power and, becoming arrogant in his complacency, completely lost sight of his gifts. He began interfering and, like a petulant child, became angry when he wasn't appreciated, and his anger was often followed by deep remorse. He was simply 'too big for his own boots'. He couldn't cope with his gifts and they began to fail him. There was no way he could have averted the war (interesting, considering the power of the mind, that he absented himself at the time its outbreak, by drawing to himself (unconsciously) an attack from a fanatical opponent); nor could he have prevented the Russian Revolution and he made his convenient escape by opening himself to being murdered only months before it all fell apart.

The truly mystical part of Rasputin is, to my mind, his way of thinking. A gifted man who could have done so much good, but he became so self-absorbed and incapable of using his gifts wisely that it led only to disaster for him and for a dynasty. I was taught in school that Rasputin was a major factor in sparking the revolution. I don't think that is true. I think he was merely an excuse, among many other excuses, for leading Russia into the chaos that followed. Alexandra and her children respected him and, for that reason alone, I think he needs to be remembered tonight.

The Royal Variety Performance

The Royal Variety Performance, which took place a couple of weeks ago, was broadcast this evening and, alongside the brilliant northern humour of Peter Kaye, and the brilliance of a ventriloquist and some gymnasts, it featured André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra. What a beautiful return to the age of elegance and beauty!

It irked me a little - as a northerner - that all the comedians (and these were mostly northern comedians) made such a big thing of the north-south divide, rather playing on the idea that all northerners are beer-swilling, uncouth people with no command of the English language. When Whoopi Goldberg then appeared and played on the same kind of divisive theme about how wonderful it is to have a 'black' president and a black princess in the latest Disney film, it seemed as though a lot of old 'chips on shoulders' came into play, rather than people being accepted for what we are.

As a northerner, I find it offensive to be classed in some particular vein - I have the northern accent but I don't have a whippet, a flat cap and have never been down 't' pit, nor do I eat black pudding. I don't like the way that we play on being northern as though it matters where we come from. And, if I were a black person, I would find it equally offensive if someone kept saying how great it is to have a black president. Who cares what colour someone's skin is? It's what he/she says that matters. There are some literary awards open only to women - and, as a woman, I find them objectionable as I find awards open only to people of ethnic minorities objectionable. It often seems that people who speak most vociferously about equality, are those with the largest chips on their shoulders. We are all just people!! Who cares where we come from, what colour or gender we are? The ones who speak in the loudest voices, seem to have the biggest hang-ups about these things and create the widest divides.

However, in the middle of all that, there stepped onto the stage the wonderful Johann Strauss Orchestra - what a beautiful journey back into that age of glittering ballrooms and refinement! The musicians all smiled at one another throughout their performance and it was utterly beautiful! Thank you, Mr. Rieu (I found your image on Google and have posted it here!).

An Affair to Remember: Princess Margaret, Part 2 of 2

Princess Margaret
[Read Part I] It is hard to imagine today that the cause for alarm was that Townsend was divorced, but at that time, there had not been a divorce in the English royal family in more than 400 years and the Church of England, of which the queen was the supreme leader, did not condone divorce. Divorced people were not accepted at court. Even more disturbingly for the Queen Mother, for Queen Elizabeth II, for senior courtiers and for the government, the issue of divorce had been at the center of the abdication crisis less than 20 years earlier. One of the key reasons Edward VIII had abdicated was because he wished to marry a woman who had been twice divorced. His position as head of the Church of England and as the moral symbol of the British Empire was untenable. Since he had never particularly wanted to be king, he chose the woman over the crown. His decision was irresponsible in the eyes of the royal family, thrusting his less confident brother, George VI, onto the throne and forcing his young nieces into a permanent spotlight. The Queen Mother, particularly despised him, believing that the stress of kingship (rather than heavy smoking and a lifetime of poor health) had led to her husband’s early death.

Captain Townsend
Margaret’s desire to marry Townsend reawakened all of those ill feelings. The royal household managed to keep the romance quiet for a bit. There were rumors but the press did not break the story until the princess behaved indiscreetly while awaiting her carriage following the queen’s coronation—she was seen brushing fluff off Townsend’s uniform and a media firestorm ensued. The Royal Air Force sent Townsend out of the country to a two-year posting in Belgium. On the advice of the government, Margaret and Townsend were asked not to see each other for at least one year and to wait another year after that before deciding to marry.

As a princess, Margaret was subject to the Royal Marriages Act which requires royals under the age of 25 to receive the monarch’s permission to marry. After that, they need only Parliament’s approval. By the end of the two-year waiting period, Margaret would have reached 25 and Elizabeth would no longer be in the awkward position of denying permission, which she surely would have done despite her love for her sister. All of the royal family was sincerely religious and the queen was—and is—a stickler for duty. As head of the church, she would not have ignored the church’s tenets about divorce. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to believe that Margaret would be able to marry Townsend if she just waited.

But many church leaders, government leaders and senior courtiers were working against the couple. As the crisis grew, the Queen Mother apparently withdrew more and more from her daughter and Queen Elizabeth seemed to be “ostriching”, as one biographer put it, burying her head and hoping things would end well.

Margaret and Townsend wrote a steady stream of love letters and spoke frequently on the phone, each believing they would be married once she was 25. As the date approached, Prime Minister Anthony Eden (himself divorced and remarried) threatened that the proposed marriage would require Margaret to surrender her right to the throne (she was number three at the time), forfeit her income from the Civil List, give up her title and royal status, marry outside of the church and live abroad for several years at least. Most, if not all of this, was untrue. Nothing in British law would require her to forfeit her income, status or right of succession. However, she could not have married in the Church of England and they probably would have been asked to live abroad until things were calmer. Neither Margaret nor Townsend seems to have been aware of their true legal status. For her part at least, Margaret was in constant communication with church leaders, corresponding and meeting with bishops as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury on the matter.

Princess Margaret
Public opinion was divided with many taking the side of “true love” and others supporting Margaret’s duty to uphold certain values. As her birthday approached, things reached a boiling point. Unwilling to deliver the coup de grace, the queen avoided Margaret as much as possible but allowed her to meet Townsend at the homes of friends and relatives as long as they were not photographed together. For three heady weeks in October 1955, they dined and talked amidst growing pressure. The press hounded them, hiring helicopters to fly over the houses where they were staying.

Then, quite suddenly, the crisis was over. Both had reached a breaking point: Margaret and Townsend called it off. It is difficult to know whether the extreme emotional distress, the princess's potential loss of royal status and income, or their strong Anglican faith was the determining factor. Very recent evidence has even suggested that Margaret had been falling out of love by the end--in his memoirs, Townsend said their love had been as strong as ever. Together, they drafted a statement explaining that “mindful of the Church’s teachings” she had decided not to marry Townsend. They saw each other a few more times, reportedly parting in tears, during the next few years until Townsend married someone else in 1959.

The crisis may have been over, but the story of their love haunted Margaret’s public image all of her life and was one of the top items in her obituaries when she died in 2002. The greatest irony was that, in 1978, Princess Margaret became the first royal highness to divorce, setting a precedent for three of the queen’s four children. Two of them have even remarried—Prince Charles to a divorced woman and Princess Anne to a former equerry.

The crisis was more than a romantic tragedy; it was a foreshadowing of things to come. The royal family’s tendency to avoid difficult topics and to misinterpret public feeling would negatively impact them again and again, from the marital foibles of Charles and Diana to the scandalous shenanigans of Sarah Duchess of York to, most seriously, the family’s response to Diana’s death, which has been captured so well in the Oscar-winning film, “The Queen.” After 50 years of ignoring problems or trying to sweep them under the carpet, the royal family was deeply shaken by the public’s reaction to their reaction to Diana’s death. As with the Margaret-Townsend affair, they saw it as a private matter. Today, at last, they’ve come to realize that, for them, private matters are public matters. Partially in response to this, they are making the royal family smaller by giving fewer people titles, official duties and income from public sources. And, they have actual public relations professionals working for them, instead of relying on crusty old courtiers to advise them in these matters.

Inevitably, another royal scandal will one day present itself. We shall see if the lesson of Margaret and Townsend has indeed been learned.

bad hairstyle for guys

hairstyle for guys

Caring for the Planet and the Creatures We Share it With

If, instead of paying attention to so much propaganda from global politicians in the desire to raise taxes and destroy the sovereignty of individual countries, all the people who really care about this planet and the creatures upon it, were to watch this video, I am sure that such evil practices as this would stop immediately. Would that such treatment were top of the list for discussion in Copenhagen!!

Please be warned, this video is extremely distressing:



emo girl
It’s raw and refined, emotional and apathetic, simple yet elegant.

Prince Albert and Princess Alice

In loving memory of beautiful Prince Albert who died on 14th December 1861 aged only 42. In his relatively short life he had achieved so much - a great artist, composer and musician, he restored the tarnished image of the monarchy in Britain and was passionate about the welfare of the people. Far-sighted in ensuring an excellent education for his daughters as well as his sons, he was a deeply loving father and a true role model...and incredibly handsome too!!

And in loving memory of his daughter, Princess Alice, who, after wearing herself out caring for her family and the people of Hesse, died aged only 35 on 14th December 1878. Like her father, Alice had a profound social conscience and a deep, questioning spirituality. It is significant and beautiful that her last words were, "Dear Papa..."

Dynasties To Meet In Istanbul

This is an interesting article: Russian and Ottoman Dynasties.

I have been a bit lazy lately but I hope to write some longer posts at the end of the week.

Some have greatness....

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" wrote Shakespeare in 'Twelfth Night'.

The major front-of-house players on the world stage in 1914 were mostly those who had greatness thrust upon them. Franz Josef became Emperor of Austria in 1848, at the age of 18, due to the mental difficulties of his uncle and predecessor. Nicholas - at 26 - became Tsar of Russia in 1894 due to the untimely death of his father. George of Great Britain became king due to the premature death of his brother, Albert Victor; and Wilhelm II became Kaiser due to his father's throat cancer. With the exception of Wilhelm (who was busy working out the problems of his malformed arm and difficulties with his relationship with his mother) none of these men actively sought power but became the front men for the biggest disaster in history. Behind them, of course, were the same unseen 'dark forces' that continue to this day - the forces of those who 'achieve' greatness, or rather snatch at an idea of 'greatness' and power through sheer arrogance.

Across Europe in the years leading up to 1914, there was a restlessness - women were no longer content to remain disenfranchised; the industrial revolution had led people from their more natural way of life to living by the clock in slum dwellings and that couldn't continue; the population had increased and people were suddenly being herded into jobs which crushed their spirit by unscrupulous factory owners. In such a state of unhappiness, the idea was born that the king/Tsar/Kaiser was responsible for all of this dissatisfaction but in fact it was nothing to do with any of these men all of whom (excepting, perhaps, George of Britain) were victims of their greatness.

Of these 4 kings, the one who has received the greatest criticism is Nicholas, Tsar of All the Russias. So often he has been written off by historians as 'weak' but this is such a glib comment that is merely folk lore. Nicholas went out of his way to avoid the catastrophe of war. He was battling not only against those 'dark forces' of industrialists and bankers who had already decided that war was the best way to acquire wealth, but also against the rising tide of change within his own Empire. When push came to shove, George was most cowardly, in my opinion. Changing his name to Windsor to sound more English, he abandoned his close ally, cousin and friend, Nicholas to save his own skin. Franz Josef, having endured the dramatically tragic deaths of his brother, son and wife, gave up the fight and passed on. Wilhelm, I think, tried to make amends by offering safe haven to his 'enemy' Russian cousins, then fled to Holland but he was already powerless because his ministers had taken over. Nicholas, however, stood by his army, abdicated so as not to turn his army on his own people and suffered the indignity and humiliation of abdicating so as not to be unfaithful to his allies. Of the 4 of them, who behaved with the greatest courage right to the end? The 'weak' Nicholas!

Who came next in these countries? Power seeking psychopaths like Lenin (riddled with syphilis), Stalin (mass murderer), Hitler...massive propaganda machines...and what is happening today in the way of propaganda?

The most fascinating thing about history is that - as so many things in life - nothing is ever as it first appears! The most fascinating thing about the news is also that nothing is ever as it first appears. Let's be awake and aware and not be hoodwinked into believing more untruths.

BRIDAL JEWELRY Wedding Aksesoris

BRIDAL JEWELRY Wedding Aksesoris
Wearing your bridal jewelry is your memory to the most special day in your life. What ever your bridal jewelry selection, look spectacular on your wedding day because you waited for this special moment for a lifetime!